19 February 2021

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) have today announced their R&D collaboration for an exciting new funding opportunity, Farming Innovation Pathways.

The competition will be delivered through UKRI’s ISCF Transforming Food Production challenge fund, aimed at developing new and existing farm-focused innovations. Farming Innovation Pathways will ensure practical translation of leading research in agriculture, so that it can directly benefit farmers and support them to address the challenges of productivity, sustainability, and net zero emissions in UK farming.

This is the first competition of its kind following the UK’s departure from the EU. It will pave the way for R&D to turbocharge future innovation in the agricultural sector. Farming Innovation Pathways will act as a bridge between the final stages of the Transforming Food Production programme and the launch of Defra’s R&D Innovation package in 2022.

It will build on the ground-breaking innovations already funded by the Transforming Food Production programme, which has seen advancement in areas as diverse as insect farming, sustainable livestock feed, agricultural robotics and autonomous growing systems. Similarly, Farming Innovation Pathways will be open to ideas addressing challenges across the agri-food sector. Priorities will include robotics and automation, which could include things like vision-guided robotic weeding systems, and novel food production systems, including vertical farming.

Funded through Defra’s Future Farming & Countryside Programme, this £12m opportunity will bring together farmers, growers and businesses, enabling them to develop novel technological solutions. Through its dual-pronged approach, the competition will support a range of exciting projects, from the initial spark of an idea through to developing transformational technologies that could revitalise farming practice and be taken up across the sector. Crucially, Farming Innovation Pathways aims to support the adoption of innovative technologies and practices, so it will be vital for applicants to develop solutions with the engagement of farmers and growers.

  • Feasibility projects (£5m): To evaluate the potential of early-stage ideas or innovations that tackle on-farm challenges, that could lead to further R&D to develop ideas into technically and commercially feasible solutions.
  • Industrial research (£7m): To develop novel high-potential solutions targeting real issues affecting farmers, growers and other agribusinesses, or further develop existing solutions. This will deliver transformative solutions that tackle problems farmers are currently facing. It will include working with stakeholders to assess how solutions will be integrated within production systems to achieve widespread adoption.

Register here for the Farming Innovation Pathways (FIP) briefing event on 11 March 2021.


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